HBO’s ‘The Deuce’: A First Look

HBO’s ‘The Deuce’: A First Look

Long-time followers of The Rialto Report may know that a year or so ago, we were asked to be consultants to the upcoming HBO show, ‘The Deuce‘.

Created by George Pelecanos and David Simon (‘The Wire‘) and starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, ‘The Deuce’ follows the story of the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s, exploring the rough-and-tumble world at the pioneering moments of what would become the billion-dollar American sex industry.

Last night, The Rialto Report attended the premiere screening of the pilot episode of ‘The Deuce’ – which was the opening evening event at the Split Screens Festival in New York.

‘The Deuce’ premieres on HBO on September 10th, 2017.


‘The Deuce’ revolves around a colorful clutch of hookers, pimps, bartenders, cops and sundry hustlers trying to make a living on the trash-ridden streets of New York, and transports viewers back to Times Square in all its grungy, seedy, early 1970s glory.

Here’s the official trailer:

After the screening, there was Q&A with Maggie Gyllenhaal and director Michelle MacLaren, known for her work on ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Westworld.’

The Deuce(from left to right) Michelle MacLaren, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and moderator Matt Zoller Seitz


Maggie spoke about researching her role with Annie Sprinkle, who gave her some simple but helpful insights – like “How many people do you fuck a night, and what do you do if it’s really cold.”

Maggie also mentioned The Rialto Report and our podcasts (!), and that she’d met a number of people we’re profiled, such as Veronica Hart who invited her to the set of a porn shoot in Los Angeles, having been invited by a former adult film star who was working craft services for the shot: “I did get some behind-the-scenes information there,” she said, adding that porn pics “shoot really slowly.”

The Deuce(from left to right) Michelle MacLaren, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and moderator Matt Zoller Seitz


Maggie recommended two books that we gave to her that were useful to her as research – Tina Russell‘s autobiography ‘Porno Star’ (1973) and ‘Ladies of the Night’ by Susan Hall and Bob Adelman.

Apparently the list of required viewing for working on ‘The Deuce’ included 1970s porn (“I thought I’d seen some porn. 1970s porn was way better,” Maggie said) and mainstream films such as ‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Shaft,’ ‘The Panic in Needle Park’ and ‘The French Connection.’

Most of the Times Square sequences were actually shot in a two-block section of Washington Heights around 164th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Producers were able to dress those blocks to recreate New York of a generation-and-a-half ago, and they made liberal use of CG technology to strip traces of 2017 out of their frames. Michelle MacLaren said that shooting a period piece in Times Square today would be nearly impossible: “You can’t say to 10 million people: Can you move out of the way and take your cars with you.”

The Deuce(from left to right) Michelle MacLaren, Maggie Gyllenhaal


The DeuceThe Rialto Report’s April Hall at the premiere screening of the pilot episode of ‘The Deuce’


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  • Posted On: 3rd June 2017
  • By: The Rialto Report
  • Under: Articles · Photos


  1. Brooklyn Mike · June 3, 2017 Reply

    Kicking myself for missing this last night! I’m really looking forward to this series!

  2. P.I. · June 3, 2017 Reply

    Love it!

    I no longer have cable tv, but I’m hoping HBO will let the General Public watch the first episode for free online ( other cable channels have done it ).

    I’m not surprised Maggie Gyllenhaal is in this series. She’s a gutsy actress, and was truly amazing in a movie called SECRETARY.

    Just for the record, I think Ms. Hall is cute.

  3. Bud · June 3, 2017 Reply

    Wait… HBO have consulted with The Rialto Report???! I am truly impressed that the big time Johnny’s at cable TV have had the intelligence to contact a site a intelligent and informative as Rialto.
    Maybe there IS hope after all that this show will be good.
    NOW I’m interested………

  4. Emily · June 3, 2017 Reply

    I was there last night as well as I wanted to applaud when Maggie mentioned you guys! Very well deserved.

    Now i hope the show is as successful as possible. The pilot was pretty darned impressive.

  5. anon · June 3, 2017 Reply

    Congrats guys – can’t wait to see it!

  6. Roy Karch · June 3, 2017 Reply

    been waiting for the LA premier . please keep me alerted .

  7. Roy Karch · June 3, 2017 Reply

    we will ALL go! yes we will.

  8. Bill · June 4, 2017 Reply

    Congratulations to HBO – looks like another hit show! Can’t wait for this. I’ve become addicted to the era thanks to the Rialto website and it is such fertile ground for a great drama by Simon/Pelecanos. Bring it on!!!!

  9. S. B. · June 4, 2017 Reply

    Thanks to the Rialto I found out about the premiere and I attended in person. The producers have got the period detail spot on and it was the most realistic recreation of Times Square I’ve ever seen.

    The marquees are especially amazing. Good acting too.

  10. David Bertolino · June 4, 2017 Reply

    Congrats to the keeper of the flame “the Rialto Report”

  11. John · June 4, 2017 Reply

    This sounds pretty interesting. Big James Franco fan here. His performance in the mostly overlooked and underappreciated “Spring Breakers” was a tour de force.

  12. Chris · June 4, 2017 Reply

    Once again April and Ash top-notch stuff thank you. Looking forward to September 10. I have been looking for this on HBO finally. Make sure we invite Leslie Bovee ?Jamie Gillis is looking down ? Enjoy your summer see you in September cheers Chris

  13. Adrian · June 5, 2017 Reply

    I can’t wait to see this series! And please, more images of the lovely and talented April Hall!

  14. David Bertolino · June 5, 2017 Reply

    Bill Margold would be thrilled

  15. Jose verschaffel · June 5, 2017 Reply

    I had a good time at the showing of the pilot, the Rialto Report was mentioned, and if you don’t blink you can see me in a phone booth being serviced by a young lady!

  16. Veronica Vera · June 5, 2017 Reply

    Great work, Rialto Report. Thanks for this update. Big congratulations. Thanks, April and Ash for all you do in creating and preserving this unique archive. xoxo

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